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Cultural Hypersexualization
September 24, 2011 9:03 AM   Subscribe

Do little girls become little women too soon?
posted by - (207 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yes.
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 9:12 AM on September 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


What's Wrong With Cinderella?
posted by box at 9:16 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cinderella Ate My Daughter.
posted by box at 9:17 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is interesting, I'll read it all later. I've got to take my eleven year old daughters to the mall to buy new yoga pants with the word pink written on the ass now.

In all seriousness though, hasn't every generation felt the one that follows is maturing too quickly?
posted by Keith Talent at 9:17 AM on September 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


"Caoimhe (pronounced Keeva)"

Oversexualization is one thing, but there seem to be bigger problems at hand.
posted by papayaninja at 9:17 AM on September 24, 2011 [71 favorites]


Is this a rhetorical question?
posted by roboton666 at 9:17 AM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oversexualization is one thing, but there seem to be bigger problems at hand.

Irish names?
posted by bewilderbeast at 9:19 AM on September 24, 2011 [68 favorites]


I'm pretty sure my niece wants to be Rainbow Dash when she grows up, so I feel like I've done some good work there.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:19 AM on September 24, 2011 [17 favorites]


Irish names?

Any name with an "mh" making a "v" sound, Irish or otherwise.
posted by papayaninja at 9:21 AM on September 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


I find it funny how a girl who wears bras and princess dresses is referred to as being a premature woman, whereas a man who plays videogames and doesn't have kids is referred to as an overgrown adolescent. As if female adulthood is simply a series of clothes one has to don, and male adulthood is a series of prescribed tasks which need to be completed.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:22 AM on September 24, 2011 [181 favorites]


Oversexualization is one thing, but there seem to be bigger problems at hand.

TH' OIRISH!!!
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:22 AM on September 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


If Glass Candy's next record isn't named Cultural Hypersexualization I will be upset.
posted by nathancaswell at 9:23 AM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, the onset of puberty is linked to fat/muscle ratio so a rise in obesity could lead to a lowering of the average onset of pubescence.
posted by The Whelk at 9:23 AM on September 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Any name with an "mh" making a "v" sound, Irish or otherwise.
Jesus!
posted by fullerine at 9:23 AM on September 24, 2011


It has always puzzled me why a society that is so terrified of pedophilia would go to such lengths to dress their children like sex objects.

If I am allowed my old guy moment, Christ, in my days, girls were just girls.
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 9:24 AM on September 24, 2011 [17 favorites]


From the linked article:
Many parents and commentators defend Happily Ever After against what some critics call a rising "feminist attack," and credit the comely ladies with teaching values such as kindness, reading, love of animals, and perseverance.
Right, because we feminists are universally known to be unkind and illiterate animal-haters and quitters.

Hugo Schwyzer on the princess culture:
As Orenstein and others point out, little girls take their cues about what is desirable by looking at how boys and men respond to older girls and women. The father who lavishes adoration on “Daddy’s little princess” but ogles high-school cheerleaders is sending his daughter a clear message. The message is that the princess phase won’t last much longer, and if you want to grasp and hold adult male attention, you need to be sexy.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:29 AM on September 24, 2011 [20 favorites]


"'Caoimhe (pronounced Keeva)'

Oversexualization is one thing, but there seem to be bigger problems at hand.
"

Caoimhe (Irish pronunciation: [ˈkiːvʲə]; English: /ˈkwiːvə/ or /ˈkiːvə/ k(w)ee-və), anglicised Kiva, Keva or Keeva, is an Irish language female given name derived from the Gaelic caomh, meaning beautiful, gentle or precious. It is from the same root as the Irish name Kevin. Pronunciation varies depending on the area of Ireland in which it is used, both are anglicized versions of the original name, as with the name Kevin, Caoimhin. As of 2005, it was ranked 17th among female births in Ireland.*

So wait, children having common Irish names is not only a problem for you, but a bigger one than the fact that our society now standardly warps and abuses our children, much less toddlers, with sexual expectations?
posted by Blasdelb at 9:30 AM on September 24, 2011 [42 favorites]


In all seriousness though, hasn't every generation felt the one that follows is maturing too quickly?
Yeah, probably. I guess I don't necessarily think the issue here is that girls are growing up too soon. I think it's that they're given a pretty impoverished set of grown-up models to fantasize about. When I play with my nephews, they like to play fireman, truck driver, ninja, undersea explorer, builder, soccer player... they have a whole bunch of fantasies about what adult manhood looks like. I don't have nieces, but one of my nephews recently announced to me that he wanted to play ninja, and he was going to be a ninja and I would be a princess. When I said that I wanted to be a ninja, too, rather than a princess, he told me that girls were always princesses. And yeah. It's a problem if girls are always princesses. Kids have always play-acted their ideas about what it meant to be a grown-up, but it kind of seems like little girls' ideas about grown-up-ness are limited to being pretty and ornamental. And that's not good.
posted by craichead at 9:30 AM on September 24, 2011 [37 favorites]


It has always puzzled me why a society that is so terrified of pedophilia

I'd say obsessed rather than terrified.
posted by signal at 9:32 AM on September 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


I guess I don't necessarily think the issue here is that girls are growing up too soon. I think it's that they're given a pretty impoverished set of grown-up models to fantasize about.

I'd argue the problem isn't "growing up" too quickly, but rather that we've defined growing up to mean "being a sexual object". After all, for young men, we think of things like giving them more responsibilities, the chance to do more things on their own, rather few of which have to do with physical appearance.
posted by thegears at 9:34 AM on September 24, 2011 [26 favorites]


Hey craichead, is your user name pronounce "steve"?
posted by Keith Talent at 9:34 AM on September 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


Back when I designed licensed Disney products, I couldn't help but notice that Mulan and Pocohantas were the worst sellers! I haven't seen much out of the "Fairies" line either.
posted by swooz at 9:35 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sexy's not about sex, it's about shopping (pag. 5).
posted by - at 9:39 AM on September 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


So wait, children having common Irish names is not only a problem for you, but a bigger one than the fact that our society now standardly warps and abuses our children, much less toddlers, with sexual expectations?

Certainly not as big a problem as people not being able to identify when someone on Metafilter is joking.
posted by Dasein at 9:39 AM on September 24, 2011 [57 favorites]


In all seriousness though, hasn't every generation felt the one that follows is maturing too quickly?

There have actually been quite a few articles about how men are allegedly remaining adolescents for longer because they don't have tracked careers and wives and families at the same age as their parents were when they reached those "milestones."

Some would say that the entire negative obsession over "hipsters" relates to the idea of making fun of young adults who are obsessed with childish things. It's an interesting obsession, because while on the one hand, taking on responsibilities and taking things seriously is a good idea, on the other hand, there's also a lot to be said for enjoying music and bikes and making things yourself and your continued education and a rejection of prescribed socioeconomic "milestones." It's complicated.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:39 AM on September 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


From the article: "Girls no longer feel that there is anything they must not do or cannot do because they're female, but they hold increasingly strong beliefs that if you are going to attempt these other things, you need to look and be sexually hot."

Then there is the suggestion I heard recently on the CBC (sorry, can't remember who was promoting the idea) that women should use their "sexual capital" to get ahead.
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 9:40 AM on September 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


As if female adulthood is simply a series of clothes one has to don, and male adulthood is a series of prescribed tasks which need to be completed.

This is probably the single most succinct summation of the problem with our culture's dominant notion of adulthood I've ever read. Bravo.
posted by AdamCSnider at 9:41 AM on September 24, 2011 [48 favorites]


Sorry, it was "erotic capital."

http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/episode/2011/09/15/erotic-capital-the-power-of-attraction/
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 9:43 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


In television shows, for instance, women are represented in far more diverse roles – they are lawyers, doctors, politicians. But they are always sexy.

This is why I basically can't watch more than a couple hours of television a week any more.

It just grinds me down, after a while.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 9:45 AM on September 24, 2011 [9 favorites]


My daughter never had any interest in the whole Disney Princess thing. She was obsessed with stuff like dinosaurs and jungle cats. My niece, on the other hand, was fully about princesses, High School Musical and Hannah Montana. Yet, they always found a way to play that incorporated both of their interests. One day, when they were about 5, they were down on the floor playing with a princess doll and a plastic dinosaur. "Come on, pet T-Rex," my niece said. "It's time to go to high school!" My daughter let out a long, disgusted sigh and said, "What does she go to school for? Princesses don't DO anything!"
posted by jrossi4r at 9:45 AM on September 24, 2011 [19 favorites]


This article goes on and on about this stuff, without once bothering to explain what exactly the actual problem is supposed to be. As far as I can tell the negative consequences of this are: 1) little girls only want to play princess and that makes parents feel bad and 2) maybe it somehow gives girls body images once they hit puberty?

I think for number 2, our culture is obsessed with weight. I would imagine a lot of these girls' mothers also worry about their weight, they probably hear about it all the time. I don't think it has anything to do with Disney princess.

For number one, I see how that could be annoying to parents. Children mostly learn culture from their peers, rather then from their parents. So there's not that much they can do. But I think the media has a huge impact on how kids see the world too. So even if kids don't watch these shows then they will pick this stuff up from their friends.

(That said I am not at all a fan of Disney crap)
posted by delmoi at 9:47 AM on September 24, 2011


No. The article exactly explain the actual problem:

Since the deregulation movement of the 1980s, the federal government has lost most oversight of advertising to children. This has encouraged marketers to become increasingly brazen, says Levin. Marketers are motivated to use the sexualization of women to attract little girls, or violence to attract little boys, because developmentally children are drawn to things they don't understand, or find unnerving, Levin says..
posted by - at 9:49 AM on September 24, 2011 [24 favorites]


What horrified me was when my friend's daughters – who had been carefully raised in ignorance of commercial characters, to the point where they called Dora the Explorer "Adventure Girl" – hit elementary school and met other little girls, they instantly became obsessed, not generally with "princesses", but explicitly with "Disney princesses". I never heard them say just "princess", always "Disneyprincess" like it was one word.

Disney has successfully branded the very concept of princessness, to the point where they have proclaimed Pocahontas and Mulan and Tiana princesses – just to get some non-whites in the group – even though they're not royalty.
posted by nicwolff at 9:52 AM on September 24, 2011 [11 favorites]


Things sure have changed from the days when girls were encouraged to be as unattractive as possible.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 9:53 AM on September 24, 2011 [38 favorites]


This article had me looking up the Wikipedia article on Bratz Dolls, which seem to have dissipated from public consciousness. That lead me to discover Bratz Babies, which certainly relate to the subject of the article.

But the thing is, there were lots of parents out there who bought this stuff for their kids. So while some parents might feel that it is an outside force causing these things in their kids, for a lot of parents it's not an issue.
Since the deregulation movement of the 1980s, the federal government has lost most oversight of advertising to children. This has encouraged marketers to become increasingly brazen, says Levin. Marketers are motivated to use the sexualization of women to attract little girls, or violence to attract little boys, because developmentally children are drawn to things they don't understand, or find unnerving, Levin says
Right but I'm asking what is the result caused by all of this? Why is all this stuff considered 'bad'? Is the problem simply that kids are interested in things that their parents would prefer they not be interested in?
posted by delmoi at 9:57 AM on September 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Disney has successfully branded the very concept of princessness

Maybe we can get Anne Rice to write some more pseudonymous pornography? Because Disney didn't re-release the animated Sleeping Beauty for like 20 years after The Claiming Of... hit the shelves.
posted by localroger at 9:57 AM on September 24, 2011


Children often come across Internet pornography unintentionally: University of New Hampshire researchers found in 2005 that one-third of Internet users ages 10 to 17 were exposed to unwanted sexual material, and a London School of Economics study in 2004 found that 60 percent of children who use the Internet regularly come into contact with pornography.

Hmm... 60% - 33% = ?
posted by Zalzidrax at 9:58 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


My 20 year old daughter just sent me this via Skype, and laughed at it. She thinks most of her peers went through the Princess stage and emerged with full mental health--better than going through your "smokin' hot/passion pink" stage at 45. I think advertising has far less effect on kids than we or ad agencies think it does.

Bratz haven't disappeared--Mattel just lost a big lawsuit to their creators.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:59 AM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Things sure have changed from the days when girls were encouraged to be as unattractive as possible.
I think things actually have changed. I mean, when I was a kid there were tons of gendered toys for little girls. Little girls had kitchen sets, doll babies, sewing kits. I was raised in the feminist era by parents who were at least a bit influenced by feminism, but I still remember getting a ton of gendered shit, as did my brothers. But my girl toys weren't all about being pretty. My toys taught me that I was going to manage a home and raise babies when I grew up, but they didn't teach me that I was going to be super-hot and sexy while I was doing it. The overwhelming emphasis on looks is, I think, pretty new.
posted by craichead at 10:00 AM on September 24, 2011 [23 favorites]


This has got to be some kind of record for me. I didn't even make it all the way through the first sentence before going "What?":
"In today's highly sexualized environment – where 5-year-olds wear padded bras"
posted by Flunkie at 10:01 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I said that I wanted to be a ninja, too, rather than a princess, he told me that girls were always princesses. And yeah. It's a problem if girls are always princesses.

When I was a little girl in the 80s, I was annoyed that the boys always wanted me to be Janine from Ghostbusters or April O'Neil from Ninja Turtles.

Guess it turns out I had it pretty good, in retrospect.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:01 AM on September 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


After paging through some 1920s glamour shots of actresses like Clara Bow and Mary Pickford, I've been thinking lately about the current standard for young women's looks. What's sought after is not a girl that is "beautiful" -- when was the last time you heard boys or young men talk about girls as "beautiful," or even "pretty"? Now it is "hot." To be "hot" is entirely different from being "beautiful," although one may be both. It's slightly more democratic, because you can be hot without being born beautiful, but it's more degrading, because "hot" signifies a willingness to use and be used. In brief: Barbie is meant to be beautiful, Bratz are meant to be hot.

When I was a little girl, my parents always told me I was beautiful, but I did not believe it for a minute. It was true enough, but I wasn't hot. I wasn't perfectly skinny, my skin wouldn't tan, and I wasn't allowed to wear makeup or oversexualized clothing, so all the pink and dresses in the world couldn't make me as girly as the other girls. I couldn't articulate that, but I remember feeling it.
posted by Countess Elena at 10:02 AM on September 24, 2011 [54 favorites]


Bratz haven't disappeared--Mattel just lost a big lawsuit to their creators.

Yeah I just saw that while reading the rest of the wikipedia article. That judgment (that all bratz dolls would have to be destroyed and turned over to Mattel) was completely insane.
posted by delmoi at 10:03 AM on September 24, 2011


To be "hot" is entirely different from being "beautiful," although one may be both. It's slightly more democratic, because you can be hot without being born beautiful, but it's more degrading, because "hot" signifies a willingness to use and be used.

Reminds me of a quote which said, "in America, they do not like beautiful women. They like average women dressed up to be beautiful."
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:03 AM on September 24, 2011 [18 favorites]


Guess it turns out I had it pretty good, in retrospect.

Well, this generation does have better Disney princesses, even so. Belle was supposed to be the "smart one" twenty years ago, just because she liked reading fairy tales and didn't want to marry the first man who came along. But Tiana had a business plan. Not the best one -- I kept wondering where the rest of her starting capital was supposed to come from -- but she got things done.
posted by Countess Elena at 10:05 AM on September 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


delmoi, I would say that the problem comes when sexualization becomes amped up, girls tend to view that as the way a woman is to behave. This can lead to outcomes such as this, the article highlights:

"One-quarter of 14-to-17-year-olds of both sexes polled by The Associated Press and MTV in 2009 reported either sending naked pictures of themselves or receiving naked pictures of someone else."

A man's or a woman's sexuality and how they express it are, of course, their own damn business (as long as they are not hurting others). But a child whose cognitive functions are not fully developed, whose understanding of consequences is not fully there and who is much more vulnerable than an adult, needs reasonable protection from society.
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 10:06 AM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Talking princesses, this reminds me of the photography project 'Fallen Princesses' by Dina Goldstein, which takes the Disney princesses and melds in some modern world scenarios.
posted by memebake at 10:07 AM on September 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


What's sought after is not a girl that is "beautiful" -- when was the last time you heard boys or young men talk about girls as "beautiful," or even "pretty"? Now it is "hot." To be "hot" is entirely different from being "beautiful," although one may be both.

Back in my day, "cute" was also an option. Is "cute" still an option?
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:08 AM on September 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


"One-quarter of 14-to-17-year-olds of both sexes polled by The Associated Press and MTV in 2009 reported either sending naked pictures of themselves or receiving naked pictures of someone else."
Teens have always been having sex, this is nothing new at all. It's just that now they are using digital technology as well. And on top of that 25% is a pretty low number. Are people really saying that post-pubescent teenagers shouldn't be thinking about sex? They are going to do it no matter what.

I also don't really think that you can draw the line between liking Disney princess as a kid and sending naked pictures of yourself to your boyfriend/girlfriend as a teen. It's a pretty big stretch
posted by delmoi at 10:12 AM on September 24, 2011 [9 favorites]


Is "cute" still an option?

I hope so, but I'm afraid it merged with "hot" following a hostile takeover. You'd have to be a teenage girl these days to know for sure, though.
posted by Countess Elena at 10:12 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was appalled to see "girl versions" of formerly unisex games in a store a few years ago. Most boys who like these won't want to play the pink editions.
posted by brujita at 10:12 AM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do girls actually prefer those girl versions, or do they exist because some bozo in marketing thinks they will?
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:15 AM on September 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


When my son was little, we didn't have a TV and I didn't take him to see Disney movies. He wasn't prohibited from these things, but I just didn't want them to have some huge influence on his nascent worldview.

And the sheer shock and horror some people would express when they found this out just solidified my position. When people start thinking of some sort of consumer product as being so important to their lives that opting out of it is considered crackpotty or horrifically transgressive, it's just more evidence to me that said consumer product is insidious and should probably be avoided. (See also the way people talk about vegetarians, open source enthusiasts, homeschoolers, Facebook refuseniks, etc.)

Disney culture and ethos are pretty ingrained in our culture, but you can cut that influence off at your door, and maybe more people should start doing that. These things do have a huge influence on the way your children view themselves and those around them, and that absolutely is something parents should be vetting before they introduce it into their homes and their lives. They'll see these things regardless, but they don't need to steep in it.
posted by ernielundquist at 10:16 AM on September 24, 2011 [33 favorites]


male adulthood is a series of prescribed tasks which need to be completed.

ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED
You are now a man
posted by Zed at 10:17 AM on September 24, 2011 [21 favorites]


"One-quarter of 14-to-17-year-olds of both sexes polled by The Associated Press and MTV in 2009 reported either sending naked pictures of themselves or receiving naked pictures of someone else."

I think one quarter of teenagers (at least) have always been sexually active. The kids are using the technology of the day, I don't think that means there has been a shift in how they view sex.

Over the last decade (2005), the percentage of all high school students (9-12th grade) who report ever having had sexual intercourse has declined. At the same time, among teens who are sexually active,rates of contraceptive use – including condom use – have increased.

So there can still be body image stuff here that is a problem, but I think we can rule out Disney marketing making kids more promiscuous for the moment.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:17 AM on September 24, 2011


Is "cute" still an option?

(In the 80s) I was told that it was strictly for 'monkeys and babies'.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 10:21 AM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


No clue, Sticherbeast.
posted by brujita at 10:23 AM on September 24, 2011


"Teens have always been having sex, this is nothing new at all."

They have. And I don't have a problem with that (if no one is hurt), having been a teen myself, once. Like you, I see the problem in where we are technologically. If an adult wants to send nude self portraits, fine. But it's a problem when a child does it, as we both said.

In terms of sexual expression, I am not concerned about Disney princesses. The whole phenomenon is self-limiting for reasons people here point out. But it doesn't directly connect with sexuality, unless someone wants to make a case connecting it to sex and roles/body image (which I might not be clever enough to do).
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 10:24 AM on September 24, 2011


They must be selling well; I took this photo two years ago and still see them in the game section.
posted by brujita at 10:24 AM on September 24, 2011


And I don't have a problem with that (if no one is hurt), having been a teen myself, once. Like you, I see the problem in where we are technologically. If an adult wants to send nude self portraits, fine. But it's a problem when a child does it, as we both said.
There are downsides, for example the pictures could get leaked and posted online, spread around and in some cases kids have been prosecuted for sending 'child porn'

But it's not like there is something unnatural about wanting to do it -- or being sexually active. It isn't somehow worse from some moral perspective to send a nude picture then being nude in the same room as someone.
posted by delmoi at 10:28 AM on September 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


But it (Disney princess phenomenon) doesn't directly connect with sexuality

Say what? Princesses aren't about anything except sexuality. Their asexual pre-Prince lives are depicted as unfulfilling and miserable, the adventure is generally the process of being found, rescued, and possessed by the Prince, and the rest of life (after Disney rolls the credits) is about belonging to and having children for the Prince. And even if children don't get quite what that means physically, as the OP and a few comments show they do understand that it will be a passive life of waiting and belonging to someone else.

In this regard The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty is really quite a bit more honest than Disney's version of the story.
posted by localroger at 10:34 AM on September 24, 2011 [11 favorites]


The issue is impulse control and full understanding of consequences - something the teenage brain is not neurologically ready to do.

Also, seeing someone nude in a room may indeed burn into your retinas, but it won't burn onto disk, so the consequences are limited compared to a photo.
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 10:34 AM on September 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


Has this phenomenon changed a lot in twenty years? Just asking. I have a twenty-year old daughter who is as smart and ambitious and feminist as I could hope for, but she was one of those pink princesses for a few years. She even told me she didn't like movies that don't end in a happy wedding (she was, I dunno, three?). I know some parents who try to insulate their children from popular culture, but it's a lot of work, and the trade-off is that they don't know what their peers are talking about on the playground.
posted by kozad at 10:37 AM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, localroger. My wording may be sloppy. I wasn't getting at gender roles, I was getting at sexual acts. Cinderalla does not compel girls to take nude photos and send them to their boyfriends, I suspect. Cinderella has been out for quite a while, but I do not recall girls being as public with their sex lives when I was a teen, so I think there is another game changer beyond a 61-year-old movie.
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 10:41 AM on September 24, 2011


"Sorry," not "So." Sorry.
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 10:42 AM on September 24, 2011


The issue is impulse control and full understanding of consequences - something the teenage brain is not neurologically ready to do.

Also, seeing someone nude in a room may indeed burn into your retinas, but it won't burn onto disk, so the consequences are limited compared to a photo.
Seriously? I understand that there could be unintended consequences of a teenage girl sending a nude picture of herself to her boyfriend, but surely the unintended consequences of her boyfriend seeing her nude in a room are far, far more common. This seems especially true since you're making your claim in the context of teenagers' lack of impulse control.
posted by Flunkie at 10:42 AM on September 24, 2011


You know, as a parent, you can just refuse to buy into this stuff. We had two Disney movies, Dumbo and The Lion King. We didn't buy Disney merch (for other reasons, too, not just the female stereotyping) or Barbie. I had a friend take pity on my daughter and buy her a Barbie doll. The only time I remember her really playing with it, she was trying to make Barbie a parachute and drop her from increasingly high places. My daughter's ultimate role model in early grade school was the crocodile hunter. She sure loved snakes!

Now, she's eighteen and a beautiful young woman who takes pleasure in her attractiveness but considers herself a 'bro' in a girl's body. She wants to be "hot", sure, but she'd rather beat her boyfriend at video games or read about science than go shopping. She remains bold and unafraid and is proud of her critical thinking skills as well as her beauty. To me, the main solution is to not raise your children to be mindless consumers, which is most effectively done by not being a mindless consumer yourself.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 10:42 AM on September 24, 2011 [15 favorites]


The issue is impulse control and full understanding of consequences - something the teenage brain is not neurologically ready to do.

Also, seeing someone nude in a room may indeed burn into your retinas, but it won't burn onto disk, so the consequences are limited compared to a photo.
Right, I'm not arguing with you. I'm just saying it's a natural consequence of teenagers having cellphones and nothing to do with somehow the "sexualization of [non-teenage] children"
posted by delmoi at 10:44 AM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


So is My Little Pony going to save girls from thinking they have to be pinnacles of human_girl sexy to have fun and adventures, or is ir going to turn them all into Furrys?
posted by The otter lady at 10:47 AM on September 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


I do not recall girls being as public with their sex lives when I was a teen, so I think there is another game changer beyond a 61-year-old movie.

Well, some of that is just a natural result of unwinding some of the shame associated with female sexuality as cultural views are becoming a bit more progressive. I don't think we have quite found the healthy balance though.

So is My Little Pony going to save girls from thinking they have to be pinnacles of human_girl sexy to have fun and adventures, or is ir going to turn them all into Furrys?

All I know is I'm sick of kids coming onto my lawn and kicking the apples off the trees. Damn you, Hasbro.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:49 AM on September 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


Oversexualization is one thing, but there seem to be bigger problems at hand.

TH' OIRISH!!!


Whale oil beef hooked!
posted by TheRedArmy at 10:51 AM on September 24, 2011 [9 favorites]


they have proclaimed Pocahontas and Mulan and Tiana princesses – just to get some non-whites in the group – even though they're not royalty.

Tiana, being wed to Prince Naveen at the end of the film is royalty. Pocahontas sort of qualifies as the chief's daughter. Only Mulan is not.

Kida would be a good addition, but she is rarely seen as a part of the Princess lineup.
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:53 AM on September 24, 2011


Not having your children watching cable TV has seemed to keep my daughters from this kind of crap. We watch a ton of movies, and have watched and own most all of the Disney films. Our daughters never did any of the Hannah Montana, Bratz, etc. type stuff. Maybe because they aren't exposed to the advertising on the disney channel, nick, etc.?

KILL YOUR CABLE PARENTS!
posted by Windopaene at 10:56 AM on September 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Flunkie, sure. Unintended pregnancy could be a consequence as could serious STDs. [And that is controlled in some places better than others than others. Perhaps those approaches could be employed to curb the nude-image issue.] Fortunately, most teen sexual encounters do not result in pregnancy or STDs. However,chances are good that a nude image will get leaked and float around the internet for years or decades. Let me be clear, though, I am not making light of unintended pregnancies or STDs. They are very serious - always have been. And I am not saying that a nude photo on the net is more serious than an STD or an unwanted pregnancy.
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 10:57 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Who the fuck is buying padded bras and thongs for little kids? I am half serious when I ask why they can't be prosecuted for some kid-related sex crime. I guess as long as you're not touching them, it's OK to sexualize your kids?
posted by desjardins at 10:58 AM on September 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


I think it may be related to hormones used in bovine milk production as well as shifting cultural mores in addition to the rise in childhood obesity. It's like a perfect storm leading to "juicy" printed on the butt of an eight-year-old girl.
posted by Renoroc at 10:58 AM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


renoroc: A sentence I will not soon forget.
posted by TheRedArmy at 11:00 AM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


. . . I am not saying that a nude photo on the net is more serious than an STD or an unwanted pregnancy.

I dunno, man. At least those two can theoretically be treated in privacy, and most of them can be made to go away for good. Nude photos? Maybe not. This poor girl . . .
posted by Countess Elena at 11:00 AM on September 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


I think it may be related to hormones used in bovine milk production

Milk has always contained cow hormones.
posted by delmoi at 11:01 AM on September 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


In all seriousness though, hasn't every generation felt the one that follows is maturing too quickly?

But the current twenty-somethings are all slackers who don't want a
real job or a committed relationship.
posted by madcaptenor at 11:02 AM on September 24, 2011


And the fact that I know that, and enjoy those films, doesn't undermine my feminist self at all. This article is well-meaning, but there's a bunch of scapegoating and a bit of a moral panic that goes on regarding every subsequent generation.

I grew up with a very open slate of toys, books, movies. Whatever I was interested in. That included a heavy dose o solo imagination play, as well as video games, cars, books, and yes, princesses, Barbie, an Easy Bake Oven, and playing in the kitchen set a lot a school.

Princesses will not corrupt or make your girls passive on their own.

Marketing is the move evil thing at work here. The marketing of toys and games and all the rest has become very gendered. Toys R Us is PINK on certain aisles, meaning 'this is for you' when the rest of the store is apparently default 'for boys'.

Marketing to boys is filled with action and powerful words, ("build", "make")where marketing to girls is filled with words like ( "pretty", "kind", and "friendship").

Toys are toys. Princesses do do things. Share positive role models like Queen Rania of Jordan if you feel like being royalty is useless. Let kids follow their interests, but be there to offer positive guidance.

But don't forget that being royalty is fantasy. and a healthy dose of fantasy is good too.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:03 AM on September 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


I can tell you all categorically why we've seen this sudden surge in naked pictures being taken and passed round schools. And it's the invention and prevalence of digital cameras.

if you don't believe we would have been doing the same 30 years ago if we had access to the same technology, then you're wrong.
posted by seanyboy at 11:04 AM on September 24, 2011 [15 favorites]


Neil Diamond's response.
posted by klangklangston at 11:06 AM on September 24, 2011


My daughter never had any interest in the whole Disney Princess thing. She was obsessed with stuff like dinosaurs and jungle cats. My niece, on the other hand, was fully about princesses, High School Musical and Hannah Montana. Yet, they always found a way to play that incorporated both of their interests. One day, when they were about 5, they were down on the floor playing with a princess doll and a plastic dinosaur. "Come on, pet T-Rex," my niece said. "It's time to go to high school!" My daughter let out a long, disgusted sigh and said, "What does she go to school for? Princesses don't DO anything!"

If this means my daughter (I don't have one) wants to be a princess, so be it. Interestingly, all of my Gen X friends who were influenced by Third Wave Feminism in the late 80s early 90s are struggling with the princess phenomenon. Is it reactionary? I don't know.

Speaking as the parent of two young boys who are very different in temperament, and, to some degree, interests, the development of personality is far more complex than these sorts of articles tend to acknowledge. Thanks to all the influences out there, there is only so much a parent can control (for example, I hate hockey, we never watch hockey, yet my son loves hockey).

The best you can do as a parent is help prepare your kids for the challenges and societal expectations they are going to face on a day-to-day basis, and hopefully give them the power to choose for themselves.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:06 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


And I don't know what its like in your country, but I see no evidence that young girls "grow up too quickly". I'm not sure why we have this meme floating around, but my feeling is that it's both wholly wrong and a little bit damaging.
posted by seanyboy at 11:07 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Finally my two favorite topics together in one thread: 5-year-olds in padded bras and the filthy Irish.
posted by dr_dank at 11:09 AM on September 24, 2011 [19 favorites]


"I'm just saying it's a natural consequence of teenagers having cellphones and nothing to do with somehow the "sexualization of [non-teenage] children"

I suspect that rates of nude-photo sending are lower in countries where the consequences of unprotected sex are well taught to teens (if only by making consequences of actions in general a more prevalent thought). Teens in Japan, for example, are not totally abstinent (nor are they taught to be), but the teen pregnancy rate there (4 per 1000 in the 15-19 y.o. age group in 2002) is lower than in the U.S. (53 per 1000). However, verifying this would be next to impossible, I suspect. Similarly, my guess would be that in nations where children are less sexualised, it would be lower. If you want to call me out on lack of data, though, you'd have me.
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 11:11 AM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Padded bras for five year olds really are what's wrong with the world today.

You can do this far more cheaply and easily with a tube top and a couple of oranges. Top it off with a candy cigarette and a giant hat with fruit on it, and nobody will know you're not a grown woman. Trust me on this, girls.
posted by ernielundquist at 11:16 AM on September 24, 2011 [21 favorites]


"if you don't believe we would have been doing the same 30 years ago if we had access to the same technology, then you're wrong."

Well, I guess that settle the issue.
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 11:18 AM on September 24, 2011


Like I've been saying since the late 90s when Grrl seemed to give way to Britney: the greatest trick sexist pervos ever played was to convince girls that "owning" their sexuality wasthe same thing as acting like that sexuality was the single most important facet they had to offer.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 11:21 AM on September 24, 2011 [20 favorites]


"Disney's Jasmine, for instance, has a sultry off-the-shoulder look, while even Miss Piggy shows cleavage."
In fairness, it should probably be noted that Kermit doesn't even wear pants.
posted by Flunkie at 11:24 AM on September 24, 2011 [49 favorites]


Well I I'm not that old, but I but remember very explicit conversations with 12 or 13 year old girls when was that age. I even saw "racy" photos of some of those same girls, and photocopies for gods sake. It was common, but it was beneath the radar of most adults. Now I see 12 yew olds having the same conversations online, it is no longer beneath adult's radar. Adults used to have illusions, but all of those have been stripped away by the internet. Conversations I would hear at someone's house when the parents were out and we were doing thinks like mixing tang and that bottle of scotch that just sat there gathering dust and now being had on the Internet, where there is only the illusion of privacy.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:26 AM on September 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


As if female adulthood is simply a series of clothes one has to don, and male adulthood is a series of prescribed tasks which need to be completed.

In some ways this is partly the fault of countercultural movements, which rejected symbolic social roles (mother, wife, father, husband, worker, etc.) as conformist and oppressive in favor of liberated, aestheticized self-creation as a form of self-determination and freedom. This new mode of life is about constructing yourself as an image, and the advertising industry loved it for obvious reasons.

The 60s and 70s were largely successful at eliminating symbolic roles for women, and much less successful at doing the same for men, so that today, women feel the full force of media pressure to live up to the impossible image that men don't experience nearly as much. As a man, even if you don't have ripped abs and the chiseled jaw of an aftershave model, you can still achieve some level of self-esteem by working hard, being a good father and husband or whatever, because these ideals are still operative. These are not available for women who don't fit today's standards of beauty, rendering them invisible.

The focus of the countercultural critique is that symbolic roles are limiting - we are so much more than just these boring roles - so they invented new, much more ambitious, expansive visions of what life is about, and these quickly became impossible standards that we cannot ever hope to achieve. This is obviously an ambiguous situation, because the symbolic roles that were mostly destroyed were limiting and oppressive to women. The mistake was thinking that the alternative was not. They thought that the register of the imaginary is a space of diversity and self-determination where everyone would be free to be themselves, but in reality, it's an extremely unequal, winner-takes-all attention economy fraught with competition and envy. Women become media products like movies or music.
posted by AlsoMike at 11:27 AM on September 24, 2011 [28 favorites]


I read that piece and I got pretty upset, and began making plans to get my 3 year old girl a boy haircut and a goodly amount of overalls.

And now I'm thinking that might be a bit much, but I/m not sure. This story seems semi-hysterical in some ways. I mean, don't girls go through a "princess phase" naturally, and grow out of it? Also, I have to say, is their fault when they're continually praised for being cute little dolls at the age of 3 when they're all princessed up by various female adults who fawn over them and get a kick out of it?

Man, I'm freaked out and confused.

But, yeah, I'm definitely getting her more overalls and maybe I'm going to begin playing "Ninja" with her at the playground.
posted by Skygazer at 11:27 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Really, for me, the best part of the article was pointing out that media criticism is a way to disarm a lot of these messages. But I tend to think that the two most underserved necessary lifeskills that school needs to teach are media literacy and creative problem solving.
posted by klangklangston at 11:48 AM on September 24, 2011 [12 favorites]


It seems no surprise that a mom who is a play-therapy specialist should be disturbed by her daughter taking up a rebellious instinct like that at such a young age, to shift all the blame to the media monster, and to not see the monster within.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 11:54 AM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


In fairness, it should probably be noted that Kermit doesn't even wear pants.

In fairness, it should probably be noted that Kermit is a frog.

In case you're wondering, Ernie and Bert wear pants.
posted by madcaptenor at 11:57 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Chef: It's very simple, children; The right time to start having sex is ... seventeen.
Kyle: Seventeen?
Chef: Seventeen.
Sheila: So, you mean seventeen as long as you're in love?
Chef: Nope, just seventeen.
Gerald: But what if you're not ready at seventeen?
Chef: Seventeen. You're ready.

posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:04 PM on September 24, 2011 [12 favorites]


Barbie and the 3 Musketeers is awesome. Also Tangled, Disney Fairies and Mulan are good. Finally She-Ra was the greatest female cartoon role model ever.
posted by humanfont at 12:11 PM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I feel like I really don't understand the Disney-Princess-Social Downfall connection. I grew up watching and loving the Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin, which all featured strong-minded women highly unsatisfied with their lot in life as princesses. Ariel wanted to explore the world instead of singing in the crazy show with all the other girls, Belle wanted to read and get away from "provincial town" life instead of being wifey to the town hunk, and Jasmine wanted to get out of the castle and live like a normal person instead of getting married off to any of the lame princes that came to call.

Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty were always boring, because they didn't actually do anything cool. Have they somehow eclipsed the more contemporary princesses? Because I really don't see the connection between Ariel/Belle/Jasmine and little girls wanting to sit around being pretty and wait for their prince to come.

Although I admit, I do think all the characters feature an inordinate amount of cleavage...
posted by gueneverey at 12:12 PM on September 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


" In fairness, it should probably be noted that Kermit is a frog."

And Miss Piggy should have eight tits.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:13 PM on September 24, 2011 [30 favorites]


Dodecadermaldenticles: Then there is the suggestion I heard recently on the CBC (sorry, can't remember who was promoting the idea) that women should use their "sexual capital" to get ahead.

I was thinking about this argument and its counterargument, and realized that they both have valid points. For me, as a woman working in a male-dominated field, I don't want to be told that I should use sexuality to get ahead. But I also don't want to be told that I shouldn't do so -- that I'd be debasing the entire female gender by doing so. If you observe men in the business world, they relate to each other in animalistic ways all the time. For just one example, many businessmen are also highly competitive athletes (in Vancouver, anyway). People may scoff at them for the amount of time or money they pour into sports, but no one questions these actions on moral grounds. And in animalistic terms, when you have men and women working together, sexuality inevitably comes into play. I mean, I'd argue that sexuality is well in play even when four men are competing on a golf course with no women around. (First guy in the hole wins...)

So rather than denying or ignoring this, I think it would be best for us (women and men) to take an honest look at the role of sexuality in life, so that we can become masters of it rather than the other way around. And then we can each personally decide the degree to which we want to incorporate it into our characters. That's real empowerment, is not not?
posted by mantecol at 12:13 PM on September 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


Padded bras and thong for 5 year olds are a new thing. Moral panic, otoh, is older than anyone here.

After having two kids of my own, I've come to accept that we don't have as much influence as we'd like to think. My daughter was a toddler, mystifying her tomboy mom, by wrapping herself in cloth to make dresses. One day, I took pity, and made her a dress out of a pillow case (cut holes for her arms and head). She was happy as a clam. Grandma got her some sparkly red Dorothy shoes, and she was in heaven. In first grade, her friend came over with some of her mom's old makeup, and they proceeded to make themselves up. I'll be damned, she did a pretty good job applying it. Better than her mom, who hasn't worn makeup in, well, ever.

My son's first word was "truck". Everything was easily repurposed as a gun. Playing guns and war flow naturally from this boy.

Maybe their exposure to media shaped them. I raised them on Speed Racer, Johnny Sokko, Marx Brothers and Devo videos. And they're growing up to be pretty normal, tolerant, intelligent beings. I'd love to take some credit for shaping their personalities. But really, I mostly just got out of the way, and they became their own stereotypes. And I have to say, I'm impressed.
posted by 2N2222 at 12:24 PM on September 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


Delmoi--Mattel's injunction was never enforced--MGA filed a countersuit, and won. Bratz are still made.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:43 PM on September 24, 2011


Does the earlier onset of menarche not figure into all of this? It began much later some years ago.
posted by Postroad at 12:43 PM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ariel wanted to explore the world instead of singing in the crazy show with all the other girls, Belle wanted to read and get away from "provincial town" life instead of being wifey to the town hunk, and Jasmine wanted to get out of the castle and live like a normal person instead of getting married off to any of the lame princes that came to call.

Ariel's dreams of exploring the world outside the ocean suddenly disappeared when she saw Prince Eric. Then all she wanted to do was be in love with Prince Eric, to the point of giving up her voice for it. Belle fell in love with the abusive animal who was keeping her trapped in his house for, as far as she knew, the rest of her life (and oddly, thanks to Stockholm Syndrome, it turned out just like that!), and Princess Jasmine, rather than running off with a normal person, gets to stay a princess after marrying Aladdin, making him the de facto next Sultan (but not before she uses her magnificent cleavage and overt sexuality to trick the evil Jafar!).

Spectacular role models, all.
posted by tzikeh at 12:54 PM on September 24, 2011 [16 favorites]


But don't forget that being royalty is fantasy. and a healthy dose of fantasy is good too.

Yes, a lot of the pretty princess stuff reminds me of Ren Faires and SCA, which are generally considered positive cultures for women.

Amanda Marcotte had a good post recently about how the real problem on many college campuses is that women are expected to defer to men socially, not that they wear skimpy outfits. Similarly, I see a lot of moral panic about frilly princess dresses for girls, but not so much about the fact that they are expected to spend 40 percent more time on chores than their brothers (who spend more time playing.)
posted by Ralston McTodd at 12:58 PM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Belle doesn't have stockholm syndrome. LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THAT MAN'S LIBRARY. That's not a dirty joke, as a kid I was rooting for her to stay there and read! For ever and ever! Heaven! Way worth living with a giant furry crabcake like the Beast.

Anyway, when people freak out about boys wearing adult clothes like football jerseys (oh my god! growing up too fast!) I will agree to freak out about girls acting "too adult".

(and would rather have the option to be a sexy doctor or sexy lawyer than be told that baking, babies, and perhaps some kind of secretarial work were the be-all end-all of womanhood. And still be expected to wear a fucking girdle).
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:59 PM on September 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


I would have married the Beast. That blond guy at the end, whatsisname, not so much.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:02 PM on September 24, 2011 [9 favorites]


More on-topic, I think it would be accurate to say that I never went through a princess phase. I watched most of the Disney movies, but characters that stand out in my mind are ones like: the seven dwarfs, Cinderella's mice and bird friends, Rafiki, the genie in Aladdin's lamp, Lumiere, Chip and Mrs. Potts, Sebastian the Crab, the characters of Fantasia, etc, etc. The princesses were not the memorable parts of the movies for me. I certainly didn't identify with any of them. When I played games, I generally chose to be a male character, because I thought their personalities were more interesting. I don't know what this says about anything; just thought it was interesting.
posted by mantecol at 1:06 PM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hey did you know there's an entire Disney animated movie that's not a musical, lacks any royalty, and stars two girls one of whom has a real job and the other has a alien for a best friend?

posted by The Whelk at 1:08 PM on September 24, 2011 [29 favorites]


I suspect that rates of nude-photo sending are lower in countries where the consequences of unprotected sex are well taught to teens (if only by making consequences of actions in general a more prevalent thought). Teens in Japan, for example, are not totally abstinent (nor are they taught to be), but the teen pregnancy rate there (4 per 1000 in the 15-19 y.o. age group in 2002) is lower than in the U.S.
What? You think teens who wear condoms are less likely to send nude pictures to each other? That sounds completely ridiculous.
Delmoi--Mattel's injunction was never enforced--MGA filed a countersuit, and won. Bratz are still made.
Yeah, I read that. I just hadn't heard about them in a while.
posted by delmoi at 1:12 PM on September 24, 2011


if you don't believe we would have been doing the same 30 years ago if we had access to the same technology, then you're wrong.

The technology just makes it simpler, 20ish years ago when I was in school we had 35mm cameras and the school dark room.
posted by the_artificer at 1:20 PM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Otter Lady: So is My Little Pony going to save girls from thinking they have to be pinnacles of human_girl sexy to have fun and adventures, or is ir going to turn them all into Furrys?

It will probably do a generous amount of both. If my own early development and later sexual paraphilia is anything to go by, though, I'd bet on furries.

Incidentally, based on that same bit of introspection, I would bet that the whole princess thing is going to create quite a few female masochists. Which is not, from my perspective, a bad thing, but I'm just sayin.
posted by localroger at 1:23 PM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


As if female adulthood is simply a series of clothes one has to don, and male adulthood is a series of prescribed tasks which need to be completed.
that is a good way of conveying the nature of the objectification mode of gender affairs

women as things that "are" things, men as things that "do" things
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:42 PM on September 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


What? You think teens who wear condoms are less likely to send nude pictures to each other?

I think teens who have a better understanding of consequences are less likely to send nude image to each other.
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 1:49 PM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


The extent to which teens passed around nude photos back in the day will never be known. I strongly suspect it was less than today. But it now leaves a potentially permanent record as Countess Elena points out. Now it's hard to avoid. All I need to do is go to the Pirate Bay to download the latest AMA race and there it is in the banner ads.
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 1:56 PM on September 24, 2011


Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty were always boring, because they didn't actually do anything cool. Have they somehow eclipsed the more contemporary princesses? Because I really don't see the connection between Ariel/Belle/Jasmine and little girls wanting to sit around being pretty and wait for their prince to come.

Based purely on my own anecdotal experience teaching preschool and now selling disney-themed merchandise, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and (to a lesser extent) Snow White are considered the "real" princesses. The kids didn't seem to actually like the movies better, but if they talked about wanting to "be a princess" or were playing dress-up, they always meant one of those three. Ariel, Belle, and Tinkerbell (not technically a princess, I know, but the kids put her in the same category) were acceptable to like, but tended to just have one particular girl who was really into that character, whereas the first three were more universal. Tiana, Mulan, Jasmine, and Pocahontas weren't even on the radar as far as they were concerned; my kids who were even aware they existed would tell me, rather scornfully, that they weren't "real princesses."

Obviously I had a small sample size, but I thought the intersection between "blonde-haired, blue eyed," "passive," and "popular" and "woman of color," "bad-ass," and "unpopular" in Disney characters was kind of interesting...
posted by kittenmarlowe at 2:05 PM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Who the fuck is buying padded bras and thongs for little kids? I am half serious when I ask why they can't be prosecuted for some kid-related sex crime. I guess as long as you're not touching them, it's OK to sexualize your kids?

This.

Really, you can overthink this. It's a huge stretch to say that enjoying Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast leads to padded bras for 5-year-olds, and even if it did, it's incumbent upon the parent to tell their child, who asks for that padded bra: No. Not now, not in five years, no.
posted by kgasmart at 2:05 PM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, although that's not the fault of teenagers as much as it is the fault of sociopathic exploitation-driven pornography producers who see nothing wrong with promoting porn as being non-consenually distributed.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:05 PM on September 24, 2011


However,chances are good that a nude image will get leaked and float around the internet for years or decades.

I think this is largely a non-issue, or at least becoming more so every day.
It's normal enough that for younger people it doesn't have the stigma or consequences that it did for us in our day, and every day, it gets still more and more normal and unnoteworthy. Our generation, by contrast, didn't grow up with it, we grew up with Severe Consequences instead, so it'll always be a Big Thing to us.

And throw in other mitigations (such as how teens grow and change so rapidly even a full face shot is unlikely to obviously be someone years later), and while there will always be exception cases that do manage to do harm, I think the fear of consequences are pretty overblown. Social consequences and kid-on-kid cruelty is something that happens regardless, for any or no reason at all, not something new that is being created or encouraged by this, digital tech just influences the shape that it (like everything else) happens to take.

20 years ago, old nude pics surfacing of a politician while running for office would sink the campaign. 20 years from now, no-one will care.
posted by -harlequin- at 2:09 PM on September 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oversexualization is one thing, but there seem to be bigger problems at hand.

Irish names?

like caoimhe mac fionnmhacháin?
posted by pyramid termite at 2:13 PM on September 24, 2011


Our generation, by contrast, didn't grow up with it, we grew up with Severe Consequences instead, so it'll always be a Big Thing to us.

You may be right, _harlequin-. I'd just hate to see more Angie Varonas out there.
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 2:15 PM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Caoimhe would be Ni, not Mac. Accent (fada) on the i.
posted by Iteki at 2:18 PM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


true
posted by pyramid termite at 2:22 PM on September 24, 2011


I have zero patience for women who behave like grown-up princesses; they're the product of Barbie culture, and their Disneyfied daughters will, I predict, be even more irritating.

It's not about an interest in fashion or makeup, and it's not even about sex, it's about one's level of engagement with the wider world. The Disney Princesses necessarily exist in a bubble. Their purpose is to get their men--personal developments like learning courage or self-reliance are all supportive of that end. They live in tiny worlds, tracing delicate footpaths that lead their bodies to their men, but leave their minds roughly where they started.

This is fine for movie characters. The film has to end, so it's got to be wrapped up somehow, and it *is* a love story, so why not wrap it up with wedding bells?

If the lessons drawn from this entertainment, however, are applied to one's real life in the absence of other lessons to counter-balance them, the resulting adult will be off-balance. All princess and no questioning make girl a dull woman.

I agree with the upthread opinion that "women are things that *are* things and men are things that *do* things" and would add that women are taught that their value derives from their looks and how well-regarded they are by their peers, while men's value derives from what they possess and what ehy're able to do. The women-values are things a women *is* and the man-values are things a man *gets* or *does*.

Teach your daughters (and your sons) to be curious, to question, to have interesting adventures and hobbies, encourage them to study things that fire their imaginations and get them thinking. Take them to science centers and observatories, zoos and art museums, get them involved in children's theatre and sports and camping. Just get them out there *doing* things. Never let them be defined solely by their looks or by the opinions of others.

On a final note, consider how you react to other people's small children. Is your first reaction to a girl to praise her for her cuteness, and to a boy to praise him for how big he's getting? Stop and think. These lessons are learned constantly and from a very early age.
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 2:24 PM on September 24, 2011 [22 favorites]


One thing I find awesome about Belle in particular is how meta she is - Belle is obsessed with princess stories. So it shouldn't surprise anyone that she knows on some level from minute one that this Beast in this weird castle in the middle of nowhere is, in fact, a prince in disguise: Belle's literary interests have been training her to recognize and gravitate toward princes in disguise since she learned to read. All this despite being raised by a single, eccentric engineer.
posted by troublesome at 2:38 PM on September 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


Regarding padded bras: I remember breasts being a concern from me from probably the age of 7 or 8. When were mine going to start growing? How big were they going to end up being? When was I going to get to start wearing a bra?

The message I was getting from everywhere was that bigger was better. (Advertisers may have been capitalizing on this, but they certainly weren't the ones originating it.) But, I was just going to have to wait the better part of a decade to learn what my lot in life was.

We have pegged a huge aspect of sexuality and femininity to something that, not only do girls not have much control over, but that they won't even get until their personalities have mostly formed. I think that this can't help but encourage passivity in females.

While 5 may be a little young, the idea of young children wearing padded bras doesn't horrify me (and let's keep in mind that young girls have probably been stuffing their bras for as long as bras have existed). It could be interpreted as them taking charge of the breast situation rather than waiting for fortune to smile down on them.

A data point that some may not be aware of: in the past few years it has become exceedingly difficult to find a bra in a major department store/lingerie store (in the A-D range, anyway) that isn't padded to the point of being a push-up bra. That is what is in fashion now.
posted by mantecol at 2:44 PM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


My parents indoctrinated me in patriarchal consumerism, and I turned out okay.
posted by box at 2:44 PM on September 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


(*...concern for me...)
posted by mantecol at 2:48 PM on September 24, 2011


Belle doesn't have stockholm syndrome.

I would have married the Beast.

My Media prof had worked at Disney. Once he left, he and a few other ex-Disney employees made a documentary (and I wish to hell I could remember the name of it now) that we watched in class. It addressed the issues of what little girls were getting out of watching these Disney films. It specifically addressed Beauty and the Beast--they had a group of twenty girls between the ages of six and ten watch the movie, and then asked them several questions about what they saw. One series of questions centered on Beast's treatment of Belle. They all agreed that he was very mean to her, and they thought it was good that Belle taught him how to be nice. They were then asked to imagine if Belle hadn't gotten Beast to be nice to her, what she should have done. Every single one of them replied that she should have stayed with him and kept trying until he was nice to her, no matter how mean he was.

Fuck Beauty and the Beast and fuck what it teaches little girls about their self-worth.
posted by tzikeh at 2:57 PM on September 24, 2011 [36 favorites]


and fuck what it teaches little girls about their self-worth

Well, this is kind of the point I've been trying to make; it really is about sex, not about gender roles. Or at least it eventually will be. Who is the most interesting, motivated, skilled, learned, and obsessively driven character in any Disney movie? It's the villain. Even when you always see the villain lose on the TV screen, it's hard not to notice that he is having all the fun, and that he is often undone by some weird contrivance that we can easily believe would not occur in Real Life.

And the funny thing is, in a lot of these movies there is a set piece (or even more than one) where the villain captures either the prince-hero or the princess. There is a palpable and apparently inescapable threat, and as with the villain's ultimate demise this set piece generally ends with some weird coincidence or bit of totally unrealistic bit of good fortune. This is often the emotional high point of the entire quest depicted in the movie.

And so, what is internalized at a very low level is that the most intense emotional thrill you can have is to be captured by the bad guy and threatened with ... something. You experience this little frisson at some moment when, if your parents were hunter-gatherers, you would probably be focused on something much different, and without anyone knowing it becomes one of the keys that will unlock your sexuality.

And years later, you have given up the pink dresses and all that but you still occasionally daydream about the bad guy capturing you and threatening to do ... something. But now you've hit puberty, and you're figuring out what the something is.
posted by localroger at 3:18 PM on September 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've been watching this debate with interest for twenty years. Longer, really -- from the time I was a teenaged babysitter, and recoiling in horror from my five-year-old charge's favorite movie.

Disney is BAD.

Disney is anti-progressive in every possible way, and that is on purpose. Disney gives kids truly poisonous messages about gender, about race, about other cultures, about how to be happy. (My kids were not allowed to watch Disney movies when they were little. As they got to middle-school-age, I figured it was better that they knew what they were up against, and so they could see them if they were at a friend's house.)

And every few years, people start wringing their hands again -- Oh, our culture is so anti-progressive, what can we do? Stop feeding Disney to your kids, that's what you can do! It's like the "tax-and-spend Democrats" and the "fiscally conservative Republicans" -- people have this "Disney = wholesome children's entertainment" idea, that is absolutely wrong, but no amount of evidence will dislodge it.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 3:21 PM on September 24, 2011 [20 favorites]


Spectacular role models, all.

Depends on how you want to read things in each of those cases. I don't have time at the moment to go through them all, but let me say that The Little Mermaid is my favorite movie of all time. There might be better, higher-rated, better quality films out there. But that's not my point.

Ariel is naive. She is a teenager. She is someone who wants to explore and to hone her keen curiosity. She is also willing to take huge risks to get what she wants. She may not always think the consequences through (though she is seen reasoning these out when she's contemplating Ursula's deal - "If I become human, I'll never be with my father or sisters again."), but whether it's obtaining a new item for her collection or going after the guy she has a crush on, she is bold, daring, and listens to her heart.

After she is in the castle, she still seeks to understand things about the human world, even though she isn't able to speak. She doesn't lose her powers of observation, she doesn't become passive, she tries to get what she wants. She worries, sure, but even the strongest of women worry. May I remind you that she is 16. She is also a stranger in that world but she does everything she can to put her knowledge of years of observation and curiosity to use.

Her curiosity, boldness, and bravery do not stop once she catches Prince Eric's eye. She dives right in when Ursula returns, and she even tries to stop her father from sacrificing himself to save her.

It is way more complex than you're making it out to be. Ariel has agency. She is a character I have always loved for the above reasons and more.
posted by cmgonzalez at 3:22 PM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Indeed, you are right, and in fact she had no choice but to stay, being essentially a prisoner. Take my joke about stockholm syndrome as whistling past the graveyard, as I was raised with domestic violence from an early age. Their answer was sad, if correctly attuned to the reality of a situation where there is no overriding authority besides brute force.

I'd be interested in their response to a contemporary scenario where the story was not constructed to give Belle no options. I'd also be interested to know what boys learned from the movie. I think that sometimes we put all of sexism onto girls as though boys are the default and "fine" and girls need to be fixed. Everyone needs to be fixed. It goes back to the circulation of naked pictures being about girls' sexuality and behavior--what about our culture makes boys think it's okay to do that to someone? Or to consume it as pornography? It's not just about what girls do.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:23 PM on September 24, 2011 [9 favorites]


I think teens who have a better understanding of consequences are less likely to send nude image to each other.

You said a better understanding of the consequences of unprotected sex, which implies more condom use, for one thing. The basic idea is that knowing there are risks to unprotected sex would lead to a generalized fear of all sexual expression, which seems absurd.

And it's not like there's not lots of fear-mongering in U.S "abstinence only education" in the U.S.

Look there is nothing wrong with teenagers being interested in sex. It's always been the case. Sending cellphone pictures isn't a good idea but the fact they want to do it isn't a "problem" that needs to be "solved"
Who the fuck is buying padded bras and thongs for little kids? I am half serious when I ask why they can't be prosecuted for some kid-related sex crime. I guess as long as you're not touching them, it's OK to sexualize your kids?
Talk about moral panic.

---
Every single one of them replied that she should have stayed with him and kept trying until he was nice to her, no matter how mean he was.
Based on my not having seen either of them, Beauty and the Beast actually sounds a lot like
posted by delmoi at 3:40 PM on September 24, 2011


It goes back to the circulation of naked pictures being about girls' sexuality and behavior--what about our culture makes boys think it's okay to do that to someone? Or to consume it as pornography?

I think boy's think it is okay to receive a picture from someone for the same reason they send them themselves, they are immature and don't really think about the consequences.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:42 PM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Based on my not having seen either of them, Beauty and the Beast actually sounds a lot like
Crap, I was going to say it sounds a lot like Twilight but... didn't for some reason. I guess it got cut off.

They're both stories about falling in love with someone who is mean to you, getting them to turn and then having them obsess over you.
posted by delmoi at 3:44 PM on September 24, 2011


They all agreed that he was very mean to her

You know, he isn't actually all that mean to her. He's clearly very ill-tempered in general, that's clear, and just by way of his physical form he's scary and physically threatening, but throughout their acquaintance it's obvious he's making a huge effort to rein in his temper because he knows she's his (and his servants') last chance at humanity. I don't remember how well I recognized that as a little girl, but I think it's clear how hard he's trying if you watch it now - at first because he has an entire castle full of animated candlesticks and such who would really, really like to be humans and need him to shape the fuck up if that's going to happen, and later because it turns out Belle is actually an awesome person and takes care of him when he's hurt even though he's being a dick. And Belle isn't entirely tolerant of his eccentricities. It's not as though she tries to ignore the fact that he eats his porridge like a slob. She's not Marge Simpson grumbling and putting up with it. She tells him to use his spoon, and it's hard for him, but he gives it a shot. She can see that this is tough for him, and she tries to be patient, but she's no Cinderella either. She doesn't know why he won't let her leave, because there are times when he obviously doesn't like having her around, but we as the audience know that if he does, he dooms a castle-full of innocent servants to a life as appliances, so they're stuck together and they both make the best of it.

The villain in the movie is Gaston, who represents typical male masculinity. He's not intelligent or driven, he's pretty much the egotistical, conventional guy that Belle's dad thinks she should marry. Every single person in Belle's entire town, including her father, thinks Gaston is basically the be-all, end-all. Belle says "fuck that" and wants something different from life, and she gets it. You may not agree with what she wants, but she goes against everyone she's ever known and does her own thing to get it, and in the end, she does. I mean, you see Belle go after her father and she basically doesn't even think twice about signing up to be the Beast's prisoner. This is someone who would rather be in jail for the rest of her life, as far as she knows, than go back to her stupid town and marry Gaston.

I guess what we're seeing in this thread now is that girls take whatever it is from these movies that nourishes them. To me, Belle was someone who never fit in because she was a nerd, and in the end, she wound up happy because she knew what she wanted from life. She wanted epic romance, and she saw the signs of it in that castle and stuck with it even through the hard times, and she got it. Whether epic romance is the best goal or not didn't really enter my mind; what I learned from the movie is that if you study hard and keep your mind on your goals and don't let anything get in your way, you'll find yourself in places in life where those goals can be achieved, whether it seems likely to you where you are right now or not.

And honestly, those lessons have served me well. I felt like Belle in the castle sometimes, studying computer science...I had to put up with antisocial dicks and other difficult trials all the time, but I wanted epic programming skillz even though nobody in my family had any clear idea what that was or why it would be awesome, and now I have them, and I'm glad I stuck it out even when it wasn't fun. Thanks, Belle.
posted by troublesome at 3:48 PM on September 24, 2011 [40 favorites]


My point is not about receiving it, I don't really give a shit about what people do with their partners and their bodies and their cell phones. It's about the fact that a boy would spread it or put it on a website and then other boys (and men) would feel totally fine passing it around and wanking to it without nary a thought about how that might make her feel. That is enormously shitty and I don't know why there's so much discussion about why girls OH NO take naked photos of themselves, and so little discussion of why boys (and men) feel entitled to post pictures like that on porn sites. Or why men are totally fine with getting their torrents from people who profit off of the exploitation of unsuspecting women.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:50 PM on September 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


I hope I can undermine the whole princess thing by turning them into D&D characters for my daughter to play. I already have campaign ideas for Cinderella, Belle and Sleeping Beauty. Hell, Mulan has 'Adventure RPG' written all over it.


Uh, provided I can convince my daughter to play D&D...Her mom thinks it's for stinky nerd boys.
posted by hot_monster at 3:53 PM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's about the fact that a boy would spread it or put it on a website and then other boys (and men) would feel totally fine passing it around and wanking to it without nary a thought about how that might make her feel.

Well, I don't think it usually goes right from boy 1 to the internet. Boy 1 passes it on to best friend to brag, who passes it on to someone else...etc.

At the end of all this the uploader doesn't actually know the person in the picture and doesn't give a fuck about them and you are fighting against the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory.

You can, and should, tell the kids/men that there are consequences for this kind of thing and you should care about hurting others but it seems hard to make it stick once you strip away the personal consequences for the actions. People will do things even though they know they are wrong, hell if I know how to fix that.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:17 PM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hot monster, my first campaign was as a seven-year-old girl and I thought it was AWESOME. It was all girls in the party, and the DM was a girl. (Imagine my surprise when I went to the game store and there were only boys there.) Run a campaign for your daughter and her friends! They will love it.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 4:19 PM on September 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Gaston is delightful, hdu. :/
posted by elizardbits at 4:24 PM on September 24, 2011


Yeah - what drew me to D&D was that it was playing pretend, except it also scratched the same itch that making really nice excel spreadsheets did.
posted by ChuraChura at 4:38 PM on September 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


BTW, I'm not saying that what nourishes kids is always necessarily the best thing for them. Most kids also always eat candy when given the choice between candy and anything else. But I am saying that there's not just one way to watch princess movies, and there are plenty of girls who learn great life skills from them too, and find great catharsis in them.

I mean, anyone who's watched The Little Mermaid as a closeted queer teenager knows what I'm talking about. When Ariel's dad walks in on her in her weird human-paraphernalia dungeon? OMG.
posted by troublesome at 4:38 PM on September 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


"I think it's clear how hard he's trying"

It's always clear how hard their trying isn't it? When I was 16 I gave it a good two years of serious hell. He was really sorry. He was really trying.

He really was.

Whatever my personality would have been, I can nearly gaurantee you would not have quite the grumpy pissed off at the world xarnop here on metafilter today if I could have skipped that whole being traumatized for two years "because he was really really trying and I was his last chance at humanity".

I hope all that suffering and life altering tauma really did help him. There's part of me that thinks if it could really work, sure, it's a really beautiful thing to go through hell for another human being. In a sense, if it works, I think we should go through great lengths for our fellow human beings.

The question is, does it work? And when do you decide it's not working? After how much? And what's more there has motherfucking got to be a better way to save the humanity of human beings for whom all hope of restoring it is fading than to agree to be with them no matter what and suffer through that. Right? Seriously. I want everyone to have a shot at being saved, but surely sending in the vulnerable females to restore the broken angry men with their never ending forgiveness and kindness and gentleness of spirit can't possibly be the ONLY way. Surely. Right? If there arent other ways, I think we should make them.

Of course, care bears didn't help either.

What do you do if someone wants to punch you? HUGS!!!! They need rainbow love!!! Yes yes yes yes yes!
posted by xarnop at 4:39 PM on September 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


What do you do if someone wants to punch you? HUGS!!!! They need rainbow love!!! Yes yes yes yes yes!

That's pretty much one of the basic tenets of Christianity as it was taught to me and the rest of my Sunday School classes. I daresay someone would have told you that was ideal behaviour with or without the Care Bears.

I mean, I'm sorry you went through what you did, xarnop. It sounds like it was horrible. But I don't think it's going to stop me showing my kids Beauty and the Beast, because when I was bullied in school, Belle and the fact that she got through being the freak in her town and came out okay was where I went for strength. Again, you just can't say kids are only taking positive or negative things out of these movies. It just isn't that simple.
posted by troublesome at 4:48 PM on September 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Fuck Beauty and the Beast and fuck what it teaches little girls about their self-worth.

I was speaking tongue-in-cheek; I appreciate what you mean. I suffered indirectly in my own life from learning the model of one partner's saintly suffering the faults of the other because of Tru Luv. In real life, the creepy angry guy who lives by himself in his mountain lair ended up all alone for a very good reason, no matter how lonely or sad he is deep inside. The only cartoon that will model this lesson for kids is Adventure Time.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:50 PM on September 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Again, you just can't say kids are only taking positive or negative things out of these movies. It just isn't that simple."

I don't believe I said that? But pressuming you're just talking in general, I agree with you. The messages kids internalize from movies are complex and combined with the messages they are recieving in their homes, schools, religions, peer groups etc-- and how that interplays is combined with ancestral heritage, molecular biology, indoor and outdoor polution, early childhood, prenatal environment etc etc etc.

I think people going to great lengths for each other is meaningful. I was also moved by What Dreams May Come and the protagonists willingness to stay in hell indefinately with his wife.
posted by xarnop at 4:58 PM on September 24, 2011


Too soon for what?
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 5:32 PM on September 24, 2011


You know, it would be a lot more empowering if Disney stopped focusing on princesses, and made its heroines empresses instead. I mean, there's already a horse in the Catherine the Great story, so it's a natural.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:32 PM on September 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wrote my honours thesis on Disney movies, specifically Beauty And the Beast, and I have to say these texts are a lot more complex than some here are giving them credit for. Not only is it important to place them in a cultural context, but you also need to place them in a context of stories that are in some cases over 500 years old.

The reason these stories resonate - now, and then - is because of their very malleability and their ability to show people what they want to see in them. The idea that myths and legends possess a functionalist raison d'etre - inculcating and preparing children for certain aspects of the adult world they will soon enter - is fairly uncontroversial nowadays, but we have to recognise in parallel that these aspects change as culture changes too.

Beauty and the Beast is a great example. In her excellent book From Beast To Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers, Marina Warner talks about how this story could have originally functioned as an allegory for arranged marriages, where young girls where often wed to men much older than themselves. But she also talks about how the story not only one about finding the humanity in the beast, but can also be read as a story of Belle finding the [sexual and otherwise] "beast" in herself - i.e. it is also about an internal journey, and the important of acknowledging and accepting the "beast" in ourselves. Interestingly, in the first written version

I confess, I find it fascinating - the lack of agency people are prepared to ascribe to everyone who reads a text but themselves, of course. Interpretation doesn't end on the page, people, that's where it starts. Readers have agency, too!

PS, I have written a little about this online at tor.com
posted by smoke at 5:59 PM on September 24, 2011 [11 favorites]


Who the fuck is buying padded bras and thongs for little kids? I am half serious when I ask why they can't be prosecuted for some kid-related sex crime. I guess as long as you're not touching them, it's OK to sexualize your kids?

Talk about moral panic.

So be it. There's a difference between what teens do and what little kids, as in, in the story, five-year-olds, do. I have a five-year-old daughter; she doesn't need a bra, and none of her little friends need a bra either, and so who in the hell is buying their five-year-old kid a bra, let alone a push-up bra? Who in the hell buys a 7-year-old kid a thong?

Kids may want these things, kids may internalize whatever messages they think they're getting from Disney or whomever, but in the end it's the parents who have to say: You know, no, my kid isn't going to play this game.
posted by kgasmart at 6:20 PM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: We're the type of people who use the term "child free", but we will talk the hell out of you about raising them!
posted by hal_c_on at 6:27 PM on September 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


HR, CtheG actually died of a stroke.
posted by brujita at 6:33 PM on September 24, 2011


What I find even more telling in Disney movies is that there are almost no good adult women that live. Moms? Not for Disney girls.
posted by dejah420 at 6:34 PM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


who in the hell is buying their five-year-old kid a bra, let alone a push-up bra?

I dunno, do we have any sales figures for this to see how widespread an issue it is? Or is this one of those things that happened once or twice but was so symbolic a part of a cultural narrative that it's being a bit blown out of proportion?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:40 PM on September 24, 2011


What I find even more telling in Disney movies is that there are almost no good adult women that live. Moms? Not for Disney girls.

I don't want to sound like I'm defending Disney at all costs here, but I would say this is a fairly common trope across most myths and legends in most cultures.
posted by smoke at 6:54 PM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


HR, CtheG actually died of a stroke.

Thank you for clearing this up. I definitely did not say an untrue thing because I thought it would be funny.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:08 PM on September 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


What I find even more telling in Disney movies is that there are almost no good adult women that live. Moms? Not for Disney girls.

Well, the fairy godmothers and occasional fairies-disguised-as-old-women sort of serve this role, but no, actual mothers are either bad or dead.
posted by emjaybee at 7:15 PM on September 24, 2011


What I find even more telling in Disney movies is that there are almost no good adult women that live. Moms? Not for Disney girls.

I don't want to sound like I'm defending Disney at all costs here, but I would say this is a fairly common trope across most myths and legends in most cultures.


Seconded. Just like in Shakespeare. Remember that kids with two parents don't tend to need growing up as fast nor is the idea of the awkwardness of a father raising a daughter on his own as severe. When we're talking about heroes/heroines, we're talking about people that don't want to just stay at home. It's simplistic, but it's also instant narrative across the world.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 7:18 PM on September 24, 2011


Mother represents the home/childhood. Thrusting a child into the world without a parent forces the child to undertake the hero's journey.
posted by _paegan_ at 7:27 PM on September 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Errr... "without a parent" was supposed to mean "without a mother".
posted by _paegan_ at 7:28 PM on September 24, 2011


That's what the horse said.
posted by stinkycheese at 8:50 PM on September 24, 2011


what the fuck does a horse know about the fucking hero's journey anyway
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 9:13 PM on September 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was at the store today, and there were padded bras with the socks for girls my daughter's age -- six. She insisted that she wanted one. I told her that she no more neede a bra than her also-six brother needed to shave. She contined to insist that she "neeeeeeeeeeeded it" -- then took it and put it over her eyes, laughed, and then said "thats what i needed it for, daddy!"

So the kids are alright (or at least mine are.)
posted by davejay at 9:14 PM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


So be it. There's a difference between what teens do and what little kids, as in, in the story, five-year-olds, do. I have a five-year-old daughter; she doesn't need a bra, and none of her little friends need a bra either, and so who in the hell is buying their five-year-old kid a bra, let alone a push-up bra? Who in the hell buys a 7-year-old kid a thong?
So we should throw them in prison, put their kids in foster care, and put them on the sex-offender registry for life? That's what I'm talking about moral panic. I don't think the concrete damage done by letting a kid play dress-up is as great as their being molested.
posted by delmoi at 9:18 PM on September 24, 2011


I was going to mention the Potemkin villages, but it turns out the story I read in a history trivia book in the 5th grade was also a myth.
posted by brujita at 10:02 PM on September 24, 2011


Adults sexualize children in more ways than they realize, I think. My closest friend when I was five was a boy, and gosh, wasn't it just SO CUTE for adults to call him my "boyfriend," despite my indignant assertion that he was my best friend, not my boyfriend.

I so wish I'd known the phrase "what the fuck" when I was a very small child.
posted by desuetude at 10:17 PM on September 24, 2011 [21 favorites]


I dunno, man. At least those two can theoretically be treated in privacy, and most of them can be made to go away for good. Nude photos? Maybe not. This poor girl . . .

Holy crap… I've always assumed that this would inevitably happen, that someone's childhood would be ruined and their adult life forever tainted by their childish antics + the internet, but this article finally provides fantastic proof.

The internet does not forget

This is a hard lesson for people that are allowed to venture into its dark waters without first learning how to swim, and fucking shame on the irresponsible parents that threw their kids into the depths without properly educating them. Kids don't need cell phones. And the internet? The internet was the realm of asocial nerds before becoming commoditized for ignoramuses. Kids could spend their entire childhoods never touching a computer except for word processing, and somehow still ended up intelligent, somehow still were able to finish their papers, pass their tests.

When my kids learn how to bypass the whitelist and hack the firewall, then I will know they're ready to have their own system and access. You don't give a child keys to a car without first requiring them to take Driver's Ed. You don't let them swim without lessons. Same goes for the internet. The problem is children don't learn the amazing value of anonymity until its too late to get it back.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:53 PM on September 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


what the fuck does a horse know about the fucking hero's journey anyway
Twilight Sparkle and friends would like a word with you...
posted by The otter lady at 12:06 AM on September 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


We don't allow kids to follow their interests, we railroad their goddamn minds and freak the fuck out if they ever try to jump the track. The post a while back on boys being chastised for playing with dolls comes to mind.

Although, its not just a commercial thing that's making them into little young women too soon there's also your friendly Monsanto pesticide line up. And not a few of those cosmetics they're being brainwashed to use.
posted by Slackermagee at 12:34 AM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's a poor title for a good article. It asks, "little girls or little women", but sexual objectification and low self-esteem are not what womanhood should be about. It's not that little girls are "growing up too fast", it is that they are being warped by a sexist society at a faster rate than just 10 or 15 years ago. If that is what "growing up" is about then we need to re-think how we treat adults. And that's really the main point I take away from this. What is happening to vulnerable children is as much a symptom of a larger problem affecting all of humanity, grown-ups included, as it is a unique problem with kids.
posted by Danila at 2:50 AM on September 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


How many askmes are about makeup and hair styling? How many women here spend megabucks on makeup and endless time applying it every morning? How many men?

On another note, a dinosaur-loving little girl I know has been saying since she learned the word at age 4 that's she's going to be a paleontologist when she grows up. She's six now, and in school. She announced recently that "girls can't be paleontologists." (Of course, we told her that wasn't true and got her some books about women paleontologists.)
posted by mareli at 6:14 AM on September 25, 2011


But isn't it the parent who pushes the Disney Princess as well? A cousin-in-law of mine is big time Princess but also Twighlight. I'm sorry a 4 year old doesn't need to know what Twighlight is, get Jacob pillows (or whatever the hell is name is), an iPod, and laugh at her "I want a pole to dance on" comments. Little kids, boy or girl, should stay little kids. They have a whole lifetime to be adults. I just don't get it. I'm overjoyed I have a boy who loves dressing up in his Spiderman costume, reading, jumping, and playing on his big wheel.
posted by stormpooper at 6:52 AM on September 25, 2011


a dinosaur-loving little girl I know has been saying since she learned the word at age 4 that's she's going to be a paleontologist when she grows up. She's six now, and in school. She announced recently that "girls can't be paleontologists." (Of course, we told her that wasn't true and got her some books about women paleontologists.)

At the time there was that furor about the little girl who got boys picking on her for being a Star Wars fan "because Star Wars is for boys", someone made an interesting observation that may shed light on this. I think the theory was: kids start to really think about gender difference when they're in first or second grade -- they may KNOW that boys and girls are different earlier, but that's about the age they suddenly go "wait, hold up. Boys and girls are different. Let's think about this." So that's when they start to get a little obsessed with establishing what makes boys and girls "different", and drawing their own conclusions about "boys do X and girls don't" and such."

Fortunately, in my day the thing we had to counter that was Free To Be You And Me rather than Disney Princesses.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:04 AM on September 25, 2011


The problem is children don't learn the amazing value of anonymity until its too late to get it back.

Ten Four on that and the rest of the comment, good buddy.

My own darling daughter's school system strongly discourages (as in bring the police in to chat to the kids) the use of Facebook etc for this very reason. That and cyber bullying.

I'm guessing that in twenty years we will have a society of near sighted people who've spent too much time squinting at cell phone screens while texting. Invest now in Bausch and Lomb and lasik surgery.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:33 AM on September 25, 2011


Who in the hell buys a 7-year-old kid a thong?

In fairness, I think part of this is that the meaning of thongs have changed. When they hit the US mass market in a big way a decade or so back, thongs were hypersexualized. Butt floss! Love in the tune of the g-string!

Now, thongs are pretty much just one of a bunch of underwear options that you pick and choose from depending on what you are wearing, what you want to show or not, etc. They aren't totally desexualized, but they aren't wild and crazy like they were at first.

So while I wouldn't be super happy about my (nonexistent) child buying thongs, I don't think it has the full sexualized resonances people here are giving it, either.

I also think it is massively unfair how much symbolic weight we give to girls' choices about their appearance and clothing. As a man, my choices about grooming and dressing are pretty much peripheral; by and large women are not given that privilege.
posted by Forktine at 7:54 AM on September 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


There's also the fact that so many girls would rather be pretty than smart. Interesting interview here about this issue in reference to Lisa Bloom's book: Think! Encouraging Girls to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World.
posted by smirkette at 8:25 AM on September 25, 2011


The 60s and 70s were largely successful at eliminating symbolic roles for women, and much less successful at doing the same for men, so that today, women feel the full force of media pressure to live up to the impossible image that men don't experience nearly as much.

This is an important point. I'd go even further and say that, in the destruction of those symbolic roles, there was a very nasty unintentional side effect: symbolic roles for men were further privileged, and symbolic roles for women were further demeaned. It was no longer good enough to "merely" be a mother. You had to get a tracked career - like a man - to be a grown-up. And forget the idea of men becoming the stay-at-home parent.

Don't get me wrong. The alternative at the time - locking women into only being stay-at-home wives/mothers - was not preferable. But, it is interesting and frustrating to see the unintended consequences of how women's liberation evolved into a woman's duty to take on more awesome, totally cool male roles, instead of shitty, demeaning female roles. This left women with a comically large burden and men with a dissipated, confused lack-of-redefinition.

In a more perfect universe, the gates of gendered expectations would have flown open and it would have been open season for everyone, but we're not at that stage yet.

I even get the sense with this article that we look more down our nose at Disney Princess-type stuff because it is so very "girly," whereas a lot of equally dopey stuff for boys doesn't really make headlines. I mean, is it really so much better for boys to be shooting at one another with fake guns?

I also think it is massively unfair how much symbolic weight we give to girls' choices about their appearance and clothing. As a man, my choices about grooming and dressing are pretty much peripheral; by and large women are not given that privilege.

Tying this back in with children's clothing: I would not support dressing a little boy up like a Chippendales dancer or a "sexy firefighter" or a leatherman or whatever.

I would say in general that men are actually judged quite a bit by their appearance - there's just a more narrow range of what's acceptable and what's not. Pants and shirt for casual, suit and such for formal. Kilts are acceptable in relation to Scotland and people who get way too excited at nu-metal shows. Dresses are straight-up transvestitism. You just plain don't see the wide variety of fashion for men that you do for women. That narrowness is just another expression of gendered expectations.

There isn't really a "sexy" outfit for men, because sexiness for men, especially as it relates towards women, is more about a story (even if only implied) than it is about an image. Nice suit, or a weathered lumberjack look, or a comfortable-in-his-own-skin T-shirt and pants combo, and so on. Men wearing Speedos, outside of a swimming competition, are usually seen as pretty gross.

Women, on the other hand, are more objectified - more seen as a snapshot - and their bodies are more on display, so you wind up with outfits that are more about how the woman looks right now.

That said, something interesting about the princess look is that that is a look for the gaze of other women (and girls). It's not "sexy." It's "pretty", and it's pretty in a way that is generally meant to appeal to other women and girls. The princes in those Disney stories are interchangeable and muted - they're mostly props, like the horses and the castles and so on.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:48 AM on September 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty were always boring, because they didn't actually do anything cool. Have they somehow eclipsed the more contemporary princesses? Because I really don't see the connection between Ariel/Belle/Jasmine and little girls wanting to sit around being pretty and wait for their prince to come.

Little girls lump all of those princesses together, but you're absolutely right that the princesses from Ariel onwards are much more defined as people than the earlier iterations. On the one hand, the little girls like the princesses in their nice dresses and flowing locks; on the other hand, those girls will grow into women shaped by a wide variety of forces.

I confess, I find it fascinating - the lack of agency people are prepared to ascribe to everyone who reads a text but themselves, of course. Interpretation doesn't end on the page, people, that's where it starts. Readers have agency, too!

Holy farts, this.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:54 AM on September 25, 2011


This seems to be a great opportunity for people to brag about how they raised their kids right. That's cool and all, I'm happy there are little Metafilter feminists ready to take on the world, but for every girl that goes through the princess thing and emerges, there must be 10 more that internalize those messages very well. Of course, how to change this? It always feels to me that the culture at large loves it too much to change. Which disturbs me to no end.
posted by agregoli at 9:09 AM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am the stepparent of two teenagers. The girl, who is sixteen now, was given Bratz and stupid clothes by her grandfather's girlfriend all the time. This was a running joke in the family, and she promptly put them in the "give to Goodwill" bag when she got home, of her own volition. Why? Perhaps it was the fact that she was raised as a reader, and her father read to both her and her brother until they were in middle school. Perhaps it was because when they were children, their television was an ancient thing kept in the closet until they wanted to watch videos. (Disney was a favorite, but mostly the Lion King.) When they watched live network TV (rarely), they were trained first thing to mute the commercials. They still watched them, but always on mute. When they hit later elementary years, there was a TV in the living room that had cable, but they were only allowed to watch DVR'ed programs, and had to fast forward the commercials. They were never into junk, because as a parent I recorded shows I knew they'd like--nature stuff, Mythbusters... We as a household didn't watch crap, and they just weren't interested in trying to persuade us to let them.

Honestly, I've never seen two children less interested in television. They read, and they like playing games on the computer. They've always had access to the internet, but it was in our family space, not in their bedrooms. I still don't know if they've ever figured out that we've set their Google search terms for safe-search. (I'm sure they have, but I've never seen it changed.) The girl never got a cellphone until she was 14, and it was a pay-as-you-go, so she's never been much into texting. The boy (who's 15) just got his first cellphone two days ago. Denying them such things has never been a big deal--I think it made them make friends who were in similar circumstances, and amongst themselves they laugh at the kids who are "fashion victims" or spend their bathroom breaks at school texting in the toilet.

Perhaps it was our poverty that made the kids never ask for things that are consumerist in nature. But I think it's just.... if mommy isn't constantly worried about her weight, or isn't glorifying princess behaviors, I think it just becomes an interesting fairy tale for a little while, and they move on. It helps if they have daddies who don't call them "my little princess."

This always bothers me when it comes up:
Children often come across Internet pornography unintentionally: University of New Hampshire researchers found in 2005 that one-third of Internet users ages 10 to 17 were exposed to unwanted sexual material, and a London School of Economics study in 2004 found that 60 percent of children who use the Internet regularly come into contact with pornography.

Because if I asked everyone reading this to raise their hand if they were *never* exposed to pornography before the age of 17, I think practically no one would raise their hands. I came up long before the internet. In fourth grade, the girls in my class were obsessed with the Victoria's Secret ads on the back of women's magazines that advertised crotchless panties and breast augmentation. While it was only Playboy and Playgirl, I had a friend who busted out her parents' porn stash at a third grade sleepover. Also around that time, a favorite roleplaying game was to pretend to be Playboy bunnies. Did it warp us? Surely all those kinds of experiences affect us deeply. Early sexual experiences are impactful. But it's been going on since nudie pictures were invented. I would say that as long as a kid doesn't have unrestricted, unsupervised, private access to the internet, accidental exposures are shocking but mostly minimal.
posted by RedEmma at 10:54 AM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't see much of a problem with what the storybook princesses do and whether little girls enjoy the stories. I see the problem as adults projecting and simplifying what little girls think. If you're five and like Snow White, adults (led by Disney Marketing) jump straight to you want to be a princess. Maybe, given a chance, the child just likes hearing the story, and will play with it in their head however they like?

A five year old can be drawn to Snow White for a big nebulous mass of interconnected and unexamined reasons, but sure, that prince/princess thing sounds neat too, so it's not NOT part of the appeal. Of course, it's hard to articulate this complexity in a way that makes any sense from the academically-inexperienced point of view of being five.

The heroines face adversity for 90% of the story, but the stuff that's sold is only about the happy ending, draped in princessy "you're better than everyone else and this stuff will prove that." Seems to me that's kinda...cheap, and selling our little girls pretty short. (And c'mon, "princesses" is a stretch anyway, it's like they're not even paying attention. Most of these characters are either royalty by blood but treated like a servant, or not royalty at all until they marry the prince.)

Thank gods they didn't yet do this "Princesses" branding when I was a kid. I would've gotten a bunch of dolls and sequined crap, when what I really wanted was to be pals with woodland creatures and thwart evildoing.
posted by desuetude at 12:35 PM on September 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


but for every girl that goes through the princess thing and emerges, there must be 10 more that internalize those messages very well.

Must there? See I don't think this take-out is anywhere near as clear cut as op-ed writers et al like to make it. I'm not saying it's not the case but the causal chain is exceedingly complex and ambiguous here, and there's lots of ongoing research about it because it's so hard (maybe impossible) to resolve.
posted by smoke at 3:11 PM on September 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


All this talk about the weird sexual overtones in Disney movies and no mention of Hunchback? Because that movie is ten kinds of fucked up.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 3:37 PM on September 25, 2011


O_o Strange. I never really got the princess phase though Disney made me realize:
I would totally have gone for the Beast even when he was hairy, Jafar was strangely attractive bad guy, and overall I preferred wondering about the kind of princesses who had such difficulties as jewels and flowers falling out at every word (did they have an entourage of royal bowl carriers who switched out when their vessels were filled, or did they let the jewels fall to the ground for the townspeople to use, or was she simply encouraged not to speak?) or those who tamed bears or were cursed into turning into wild animals.

Even today, I love reading subversive fairy tales, the kind where -surprise!- she eats all of her would-be rescuers and THAT is why none of them ever return to their kingdoms. Suffice to say I've come to be annoyed by weak men and I've turned into a sort of man-eater myself.
posted by DisreputableDog at 7:25 PM on September 25, 2011


All this talk about the weird sexual overtones in Disney movies and no mention of Hunchback? Because that movie is ten kinds of fucked up.

It's funny you mention Hunchback of Notre Dame. When that movie came out, I was deep into my Disney ban for my pre-school-aged kids, but the LA Times review made it sound really interesting. A writer couple I knew (who had kids the same age) were also curious to see it, so we rented it, and after the kids were in bed, we watched it. There was some really amazing stuff in there about sex and power, about faith and sin, about racism -- and we're all going, this is a Disney movie? For kids?

It is one Hell of a bizarre anomalous Disney movie. How did that one even get through the Disney cultural hegemonator?
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 8:11 PM on September 25, 2011


Disney does like to pretend Hunchback.... never existed, so there is that
posted by The Whelk at 8:48 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, for your fun for adults kid-friendy no-weird-pyschosexual overtones animated Disney romps, you can't beat The Emperor's New Groove.

Also it has Eartha Kitt in it so you must.
posted by The Whelk at 8:54 PM on September 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


Wow, I didn't think I'd be in the minority disagreeing that previous generations matured at a slower rate or had more "innocent" childhoods, if that's how you want to phrase it.

My dad started working part-time in an auto shop when he was 12 (he was born in 1950). Both of my maternal grandparents worked when they were children, too. His sister, my aunt Janice, eloped at 16 and had her first child at 17 (she was born in 1944).

My mother was engaged at 16 (she was born in 1952) and of her two sisters, one had a baby at 14, the other at 16 (both were married by the time they were 16; they were identical twins born in 1949).

Having been raised in a family and rural Southern culture where the vast majority of women marry either during or right after finishing high school and work for a short time (if that) before having kids and staying home to raise them for the rest of their lives, I knew that I'd be an outlier. I'm still one of only 4-5 people in my entire family to have finished college, and the only female to have completed graduate school.

I can't think of a single friend whose teenaged child has married, gotten pregnant or begun serious manual labor for pay by the age of 15. Of course, I'm American, and I now live in a major metropolitan area, but I'm going to say that it's MUCH more difficult for the average 16-year-old to drop out of school and begin working and raise a family in 2011 than it was in 1950.

As to the sexualization issue, I'll admit that many of my friends' kids are beginning to menstruate around age 9 now, and I think it's down to a combination of fat-to-muscle ratio, artificial light from computers and TVs throwing off our natural Circadian rhythms, the use of hormones in commercial meat production and all that. However, this generation of young ladies hopefully has a lot more options to get them out of the parental home and pursuing lives of their own than simply marrying and/or having children. They now have access to a wide variety of birth control options, at least.

As much as the younger generation has the opportunity to undermine these gender-suffocating stereotypes promoted by Disney, Nickelodeon and other entertainment and marketing titans by refusing to accept them, their parents are often promoting them out of fear, ignorance or the desire for acceptance when integrating their child into social constructs such as their church, public schools, or the community in general. (I would do literally anything to make sure that the next generation of cousins never hears "dolls are for girls" and only knows what child beauty pageants and modeling agencies look like by watching TV, but that won't happen.)

Way too often, little girls are praised for their looks and little boys are praised for their athletic abilities (although I certainly don't think parents are to blame for this; strangers are far more likely to heap praise on a child's beauty or ability to score points at a team sporting event, which just reinforces the value of those attributes to the child in question).

I don't know what the right answer is, but I think that as long as kids see the Justin Biebers and Miley Cyruses of the world visibly go from being children to sex symbols as soon as they can get a driving permit, finding ways to imbue a child with healthy self-esteem unrelated to looks, wealth or ability to entertain others seems increasingly difficult to me.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 8:59 AM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


But isn't it the parent who pushes the Disney Princess as well?

It is hard to say. My daughter went from total tomboy to princess wannabe in a couple of days, and it wasn't because she was watching princess movies or playing with princess toys at home. The preschool folks didn't know why, either. Presumably a lot of this comes from kids looking around, seeing what their peers are interested in, and wanting to belong.
posted by davejay at 9:16 AM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hey did you know there's an entire Disney animated movie that's not a musical, lacks any royalty, and stars two girls one of whom has a real job and the other has a alien for a best friend?

Unfortunately, Lilo is never included in the list of promoted Disney stars. She's awesome, Stitch is awesome, the sister is a little over-whelmed and awesome - but Disney left their "dead parent(s)/no parents" stamp on that movie, too. It's like no girl can have difficulty without a dead parent.

For the record, I was a loner girl who only wanted to play inside, and whose parents told her she was beautiful. They kept telling me, and I still don't believe it. I don't know that I ever will, but I am doing my best to make sure my daughter doesn't grow up feeling the same way I did. She really, really likes those princesses, so that cause might be doomed from the start.


The universe must have a wicked sense of humor. I played with She-Ra and Skeletor and ended up with the frilliest little girl on the planet.
posted by doyouknowwhoIam? at 11:40 AM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lilo and Stitch is a fantastic movie on every level, as is Emperor's New Groove.

It's like no girl can have difficulty without a dead parent.

Just about every Disney movie features some sort of trauma which ejects the main character from the protection of the home, whether it's a literal death or some other forced separation. Bambi, Dumbo, The Lion King, etc. We even see this in Pixar movies, such as Finding Nemo.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:50 AM on September 26, 2011


Fuck Beauty and the Beast and fuck what it teaches little girls about their self-worth.

It taught me that I should ignore those who would tease me for being weird for always having my nose in a book (I did learn to ignore them, and continue to read voraciously). It taught me that you should look beyond surface appearances (I did and I made awesome friends as a kid that I may have overlooked otherwise). It taught me that chauvinistic guys are dull and boring and shouldn't be something I ever allow myself to settle for (I never once settled and found a wonderful guy to marry who holds me as a equal). I'm not saying the movie was responsible for those good things but I distinctly remember thinking of the movie in the ways I listed above and I'm sure it didn't hurt my development in what I took away from it as a kid.

I'm very sorry you had such a different experience with that movie.
posted by Windigo at 12:03 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just about every Disney movie features some sort of trauma which ejects the main character from the protection of the home, whether it's a literal death or some other forced separation. Bambi, Dumbo, The Lion King, etc. We even see this in Pixar movies, such as Finding Nemo.

It's ridiculous, though. There can be conflict without death, and there should be, especially where kids are concerned. In Finding Nemo*, Marlin and Nemo are separated, but they're both still alive, and the viewer knows that they will most likely find each other. They're safe, and they're learning from their experiences. Bambi learned that his mother was dead, his father was distant and that life is dangerous. I don't want my five-year-old to learn that life is dangerous during a "leisure activity."

Death, separation and how dangerous life can be are topics I'd rather cover with my kids personally - so we avoid a lot of Disney movies. But the Disney princess content is in everything. They read the books at school, my daughter plays games based on the movies at my ex's house and there's so much merchandise that's continuously promoted.



*Yes, Coral is dead, and it's depressing. It's quick, and then the focus shifts to Nemo and Marlin's interaction and how it grows. The scene where Bambi's mom died terrified me as a child; it seemed like it went on forever.
posted by doyouknowwhoIam? at 12:30 PM on September 26, 2011


Even though I'm in the "Girls are fine. They grow up at the right speed" camp, it has to be said that I saw the eldest's (14 yrs old) bestie friend walking down the road this weekend hand-in-hand with a boy. Now I'm tempted to throw my hat in with the other side. We need more convents. No Television. SINGLE SEX SCHOOLS. All Girls must not be allowed to be friends with OBVIOUS HUSSIES. I'm switching off the internet & yes, you're all too young and you must all give me your phones.

The Youth of Today are Obviously SEX MAD and we MUST do SOMETHING!!!

Grar, grar, grar, etc.
posted by seanyboy at 2:07 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anyway - it's not the dangers of hypersexualisation little girls should be worried about. It's the very real danger of Japanese Wrestlers.
posted by seanyboy at 2:24 PM on September 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh my god Seanyboy wins the thread.

Parents, this is what you daughters should be watching.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 3:09 PM on September 26, 2011


Fuck Beauty and the Beast and fuck what it teaches little girls about their self-worth.

When I was a boy watching Beauty and the Beast, I more followed the Beast's story than Belle's. Perhaps it was because I always felt ugly and unloved, or because all I could do is stare out into the world and want so badly, especially being jealous of all those who belong. And to be fair, there were quite a few kids who were snots to me and I remember thinking, "I thought you'd seen Beauty and the Beast." I wanted everyone to remember the lesson that those most dejected have worth, even if they don't personally feel like it. Maybe I wanted someone to remind me of it. So, no, as a little boy, I really am happy with that movie.

Only later could I articulate the themes going on, especially for the Beast. Though he starts off much like Gaston, the Beast's great failing through out most of the film is hopelessness and despair. Even his temper stems mostly from the fact that he's totally given up on his own worth. He can't help but feel a slight bit hopeful when Belle arrives, but falls to self-pity and despair when he looks at himself in the mirror. His once great pride has inverted and left him with so much shame that he can't see how anyone could love him, much less himself. He hates himself and what he's become, and because he's without hope, he doesn't even believe that redemption is really possible for someone like him.

My favorite scene about that is the standard "hero let's the villain live" part when the Beast is about to throw Gaston over the edge of the castle. In every other Disney film, this feel mostly cloying as it's the "you're better than him" part, but here it really works. Beast hears Gaston the arrogant plead for his life and suddenly remembers when he too was prideful and pitiless and only begged when it was too late. His heart softens for Gaston because there but for the grace of a enchantress went him. At that moment, instead of indulging his animal instincts of shame and rage, he forgives Gaston and himself and allows him to live (future events not withstanding). It's here that he earns his humanity and Belle's love by having compassion not only for someone so wicked but also himself. The fact that the Beast is made better by exile, made worthy by his hardships and saved from Gaston's fate is what I always latched onto as a kid. If I felt outcast and unlovely, I could always remember that these things would allow me compassion and prevent me from being as dangerous as a Gaston could be.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 11:16 PM on September 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


this depends on how she manages her body... physic, beauty... i have seen many women look like girl ...
posted by mattresses at 9:52 PM on September 29, 2011


...
posted by the_artificer at 10:34 AM on September 30, 2011


Thank you mattresses, I look forward to your poorly worded spam attempt.
posted by smoke at 5:01 PM on September 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


Sweet vindication.
posted by smoke at 2:53 AM on October 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


I've been waiting since May on this one...
posted by the_artificer at 5:20 PM on October 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wish my last name was Bongbong.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:54 PM on October 7, 2011


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